Dining

Steady Society

Armed with new menus, Encore’s Cafe remains one of the Strip’s most consistent

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Charred tuna sliders from Society Cafe
Photo: Beverly Poppe

Society Café is all about precision. That may not be a glamorous way to describe a good restaurant, but the menu and food are incredibly well-designed, built to offer reliable, comfortable flavors and send you away satisfied, thinking: No wonder this place made Esquire as one of the best new restaurants in the country. It's pretty good!

It's very good, and even though Society is Encore's equivalent to the coffee shop—a true three-mealer in a resort with two steakhouses and Asian and Italian restaurants—it may be the jazziest and most talked-about eatery in the house. Cornered in the southwest portion of the casino, it's a wonderful room, a green, black and cream beauty that falls in line with the brazen luxury of Encore with a touch of its own unique class. The name fits. It's a place Little Orphan Annie would be slightly intimidated by when Daddy Warbucks brings her for brunch.

There is a lot going on here. New menus rolled out last week, and now in addition to breakfast, lunch and dinner, there is: a happy-hour menu at the bar from 4 to 7 p.m.; a $23 "Lunch Box" midday prix fixe; an afternoon menu with a few large entrees, burgers, soups, salads and sandwiches, from 3 to 5 p.m. daily; a revised chef's tasting menu for dinner that remains at $39 per person; and a late-night munchies menu with all kinds of fun food from 11 p.m. until 3 a.m. Whew.

Restaurant Guide

Society Café Encore
At Encore, 3121 Las Vegas Blvd. S., 248-3463.
Sunday-Thursday, 7 a.m.-11 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 7 a.m.-3 a.m.
Recommended dishes: charred tuna sliders, $17; Market Chop salad, $17; BBQ pulled pork roll, $23.
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While breakfast is marked by omelets and Benedicts, pumpkin-buckwheat pancakes and French toast coated with Frosted Flakes, lunch is still the best bet at Society. There are a few breakfasty bites still available, such as an egg white frittata with asparagus and roasted tomato or the mini-quiche trio, or you can go big with Grandma Rose's beef and veal meatballs and a great barbecue pulled-pork sandwich. The kitchen does hearty well, a bit of a surprise considering the overall light and fancy vibe of the place.

That juxtaposition is advanced further by dishes like the Market Chop salad, a clean, bright combination of avocado, carrot, celery, pumpkin seeds and havarti cheese in subtle white balsamic tarragon vinaigrette. This salad doesn't even need its bit of diced turkey. Society's sliders, which come in a few different forms, are all winners. Try the charred tuna, cooked rare with an Asian cucumber salad and a dash of wasabi cream on baby burger rolls, served with crispy, funny, shrimp-flavored rice chips.

Supper is the place with the most change. New appetizers bring a multicultural diversity. There's a section of "All American Potstickers," dumpling-sized tastes of a Reuben, BBQ pork and Philly cheesesteak, Southern-style shrimp and grits and edamame with shishito peppers. New entrees take a seasonal angle—caramelized sea scallops with watermelon and arugula salad, Orecchiette pasta with spring vegetables, and the kinda crazy Mother & Child Reunion, a braised Jidori chicken cutlet and leg with a poached egg. Even more crazy is what's missing: A rich, tender, beer-braised lamb shank that used to be the highlight of the tasting menu is no longer available. Of course, the summer heat can kill the appetite, and this dish is big and heavy, but it was so good. A juicy bone-in ribeye is still on call, and there is a new lamb dish done two ways. (But it's not the same.)

Society does so much so well, it almost takes the fun out of it. Almost. This is as steady as Strip restaurants get.

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Brock Radke

Brock Radke has been writing about Las Vegas for almost two decades. He currently serves as editor-at-large covering entertainment and ...

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